"Watch for the cars! "

When crossing a street with a kid, you would usually say "watch out!". But instead of this, would the phrase above also work ok and mean the same?

  • 3
    watch out vs. watch for. They are different. If you are asking a kid to be careful crossing the street, then say "Watch out for cars!"
    – user3169
    Jul 10, 2016 at 1:45

1 Answer 1


Watch for the cars!

usually means look for or take notice of the cars since they may be interesting to see sin a parade or car rally.

Watch out for the cars!

usually means be careful of the cars.

Depending on context, both phrases may or may not mean the same thing.

When used with a stern voice and authoritative demeanour these phrases might get used to instruct children to be careful around traffic.

In informal use as a warning, the "out" can get dropped since: 1) it would probably be understood; and 2) one might be in a hurry to get the point across

Watch (out) for (the) cars!

When a car is approaching, people, including children, may scream out the shortened form


Similar phrases that get used to instruct children are

Look out for cars!
Look both ways before crossing the road!

  • 1
    Signage will usually have the minimum number of words to get a safety point across, similar to headlines, since it would be faster to read and space is limited to the size of the sign.
    – Peter
    Jul 10, 2016 at 19:09
  • 1
    Usually one would say "Watch out for the door!", "Be careful of the door!", "Don't get your fingers caught in the door!", etc.
    – Peter
    Jul 10, 2016 at 19:10
  • 1
    For fingers, one might say "watch your fingers (in the door)" similar to "watch your step" when getting on/off something
    – Peter
    Jul 11, 2016 at 10:31
  • 1
    "Watch out for the steps", "be careful of the steps", and the general "watch your step" which can be used for any situation: steps, wet flooring, a gap in the walkway.
    – Peter
    Jul 12, 2016 at 7:10
  • 1
    "Watch your step" = "be careful where you are stepping", depending on the situation it could be stairs, gaps, cliffs.
    – Peter
    Jul 12, 2016 at 17:21

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